The Fourth Cause
Unlike matter patterns, which remain static until change is brought to them and then change relatively easily, life and mind patterns have the capacity to grow, change and heal. This capability proves useful in allowing a mind to learn more or a body to heal damage, however it proves detrimental to a mage attempting to manipulate either type of pattern. The patterns, when twisted out of their proper shape, fight back against the effect and potentially damage themselves in the process. Short-term enhancements (those lasting for less than a day or so) are relatively harmless to the modified pattern, only requiring time to return to a normal state. Short-term effects can cause the target or caster to accumulate Paradox, depending on their nature; increasing an attribute beyond 5 will always cause permanent Paradox while the effect remains. The Storyteller is the final arbiter of how long it takes for a pattern to be fully restored to normal, but a general rule of thumb is the same amount of time as the pattern was ‘bent’ out of shape. Longer-term enhancements, those lasting for more than a day, place a tremendous strain on the subject’s life or mind pattern. In essence, the pattern is forced into a different shape and kept there against its nature. This causes the pattern to begin to break down as it attacks both the invasive effect and itself to attempt reversing the changes, literally unraveling and feeding on the quintessence within it to sustain itself, a process known as “Pattern Bleeding” or “unraveling”.
Pattern Bleeding causes the subject of a life enhancement to suffer an unsoakable level of lethal damage per day. In the case of a mind enhancement, an unsoakable level of bashing damage is taken or a derangement is gained, as dependent upon the Storyteller. Damage or derangements gained from Pattern Bleeding cannot be healed until the subject’s pattern is restored to its natural state. A mage (either the caster or the subject) can spend a point of quintessence to offset these effects, feeding energy into the pattern to maintain it despite its damaged state. Multiple enhancements will be arbitrated by the Storyteller, either imposing multiple effects per day or one depending upon the nature of each change. This sometimes leads to radically enhanced or transformed creatures to become thaumivores, parasites with a constant hunger for quintessence to sustain them.
It should be noted these rules for changes encompass enhancements primarily and do not govern mutations of a pattern’s nature, such as the Life 4 effect “Mutate Form” that allows one to shapeshift into an animal form. If ones does change the true nature of their form like this, pattern bleed effects them in a different fashion, primarily by the changed structure of their brain bleeding into and changing their advanced mind pattern to slowly make it akin to their life pattern.